Campus News

UGA professor named to most recent class of NAI Fellows

The National Academy of Inventors has named a University of Georgia faculty member who is a leading researcher in regenerative medicine to the 2017 class of NAI Fellows.

Steven Stice

Steven Stice, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar and director of the UGA Regenerative Bioscience Center, joins an elite group of 912 innovators representing more than 250 prestigious research universities and governmental and nonprofit research institutions.

Election to NAI Fellow status is a professional distinction accorded to academic inventors who have demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development and the welfare of society. Six UGA faculty members have been named NAI Fellows since the honor was established in 2013, and an additional Fellow joined the faculty last year.

“The election of Steven Stice as an NAI Fellow highlights the innovative research conducted at UGA,” said Vice President for Research David Lee. “We join NAI in celebrating his contributions to science and society.”

Stice, the D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has led industry and academic research teams in the area of pluripotent stem cells for over 25 years. At UGA he has conducted pioneering work in developmental biology and genetics to advance animal and human medicine. His group derived some of the original human pluripotent stem cell lines placed on the first National Institutes of Health human embryonic stem cell registry. Stice was a key member of the team that produced the first cloned rabbit in 1989 and the first cloned transgenic calves in 1998 (George and Charlie), for which he was granted the first U.S. patent in cloning animals. He has produced the first genetically modified pluripotent stem cells derived from pigs and cattle and, more recently, in avian species.

His research has led to 16 U.S. patents in stem cells, cloning and regenerative medicine, including the first U.S. patent on animal cloning and therapeutic cloning from adult animal cells. Multiple startup companies have been based on his technologies. ArunA Biomedical, the first company to commercialize a product derived from human pluripotent stem cells, is now using this original stem cell technology as a basis for preclinical human therapeutics and drug delivery.

Currently, the Stice lab is collaborating with ArunA Biomedical to develop proprietary exosomes for the treatment of central nervous system injury and neurodegenerative disorders, with an initial focus in stroke. Exosomes—tiny structures shed from cells—are cargo carriers that independently or, when packaged with therapeutics, change the behavior, improve the survival and repair of injured cells, reduce inflammation and attack tumor cells while remaining invisible to the body’s own defenses. Their proprietary manufacturing process will have the ability to noninvasively reach the site of injury without adverse responses while reducing inflammation of the brain and improving neural function.

“Steve’s innovative research and entrepreneurial spirit exemplify UGA’s emphasis on translating research discoveries into products that benefit the public,” said Derek Eberhart, director of UGA’s Innovation Gateway. “He has been an integral contributor to the university’s innovation ecosystem, which has generated more than 675 products and 160 companies based on UGA research.”

The university’s innovation programs rank highly, placing top five among all U.S. universities for new products reaching the marketplace for the fourth consecutive year.